True branches and good fruit

May 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:5-8 (NIV))

All good comes from God. We cannot do truly good things without God in our lives. When we become believers, we are grafted into the vine. We are not natural branches of “good” and “love”. Rather, we are allowed to graft onto the perfect vine and share in the fruits of that vine. We have the life of the vine flowing through us if the “graft” is true. If the “life” flows through us, then the fruit produced will also show the “life” of the vine. If the “graft” is not true, then the branch withers and dies and must be discarded.

Which branch are you? Do you bear the fruit of the vine, or do you wither and produce no fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Greater love

May 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
(John 15:13-14 (NIV))

Jesus must have counted the whole world’s population, before, then and in the future, to be His friends. He did exactly what was stated in John 15:13, and He did it without any hesitation. He could have easily changed the course of events that lead up to His crucifixion, yet, He let them play out exactly as God the Father had intended for them to happen.

Why would anyone be willing to do such a thing? Faith, hope and love! Faith that you are not ending your existence, but are placing your eternal existence in the hands of God the Father. Hope that those who receive the benefit of your sacrifice will turn from their ways and follow the Will of God. Love of others to such an extent that you do not think of the consequences to yourself if you follow through with your actions.

We think that we would be able to lay down our lives for those that we love, such as spouse and children, yet, how many of us would be willing to perform the same act for someone we do not know? We may never know the truth about our intentions versus our actual actions, yet, we must be ready to do whatever is called on from us no matter what or who is involved.

What if Jesus had stopped to think and came to the realization that Bob, Joe, Mary, and Sue will never amount to anything, I will not do what I need to do. They do not deserve it. But, he did not do this. He went to the cross for all of us. Are we ready to do what we must do when the time comes?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you rely upon?

May 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And everyone who calls
on the name of the LORD will be saved;
(Joel 2:32a (NIV))

Some people rely on their bank accounts. Others rely upon their skills in a certain field. Other people rely upon the charity of others. I would venture to say that it is a safe proclamation that far too many of us rely upon a weekly paycheck.

These are all trivial things in the grand scheme of life. They are all trivial things in God’s scheme of things. We, in our physical existence and limited understanding, rely on things that we can see and that have an immediate impact upon our lives. Far too many of us ignore the things that will have the biggest impact on our lives and will have eternal repercussions. We ignore the fact that we are physical beings who have only a brief span to call our lives. We ignore the fact that we are in a fallen state. We ignore the fact that our fallen state will result in eternal separation from God. We ignore what that eternal separation will mean.

What will our bank accounts do for us then? What will our skills and abilities have to offer? Where will the charity be when all whom we will see will be as we would be? I also doubt that there will be a paycheck that will hold us over for the week.

There is only one that we can truly rely upon. There is no other name.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12 (NIV))

That name is Jesus. No one or nothing can be relied upon like we can rely upon Jesus. We must call upon no other name. All else will fail us. Only Jesus can save us.

What do you rely upon?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Faith releases righteousness

May 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
(Genesis 22:1-8 (NIV))

Have you ever truly taken an in depth look at the events that are portrayed in this passage?

It is true that God is testing the faithfulness of Abraham, but there are things going on that are much deeper than just the mere test.

Isaac was God’s promise fulfilled just as Jesus was God’s promise fulfilled. God asked Abraham to take his only son and sacrifice him. What is interesting is the place that God asked Abraham to take Isaac. The land of Moriah and the particular spot of the intended sacrifice are commonly thought to be the location of what would later be Jerusalem and the Temple.

After getting the command to sacrifice Isaac, for three days Abraham thought that his beloved son was dead. On the third day, they spotted the location and proceeded to prepare for the sacrifice. Abraham did not falter in his task. He did just as God had asked him. He was willing to give up his only son. Humanity, through Abraham, passed the test. As a result, God was willing to give up His only Son, in that very area, for us since Abraham was willing to give up his only son for God.

Take a look at the words that Abraham told Isaac when Isaac asked, “where is the lamb” for the sacrifice. Abraham never uttered more prophetic words than when he said that “God himself will provide the lamb.” Isn’t it amazing that he spoke those words while walking to the very spot where many people believe God sacrificed His Son for us.

It does not stop here.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
(Genesis 22:13 (NIV))

At this very spot, Jesus defeated Satan through His sacrifice. Isn’t it amazing that God provided an animal that many people actually say is symbolic of Satan? The ram was sacrificed and Satan was defeated at this spot. He was defeated because our father Abraham did not hold back from God. Because he did not hold anything back from God, God did not hold anything back from us.

We have an important lesson to learn from Abraham.

God’s plans often depend on how we respond. Faith releases righteousness. Doubt releases Satan.

What do you release?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Honor and intentions

May 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
(John 5:19-23 (NIV))

He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him!

Think about that statement. It has so many implications that I don’t know where to start.

With that said, I suppose the obvious place to start is what this means to those who do not profess Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Countless numbers of people believe that they can get to heaven and the Father through ways other than Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Now, for the painful examination of ourselves, as believers.

Do we always honor Jesus?

Be honest.

Are there times in our lives when we do things that do not honor Jesus? Do our every actions reflect the teachings that we profess to believe? Do we honor God the Father when we fall short of honoring Jesus the Son?

If you are like me, then there are numerous times each and every day that you fail at what you intend to do. I fall short far too many times to even want to think about it. I know that I am covered by grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, still, my shortcomings make me feel extremely sad, for it is at those times that I realize that I caused Jesus’ pain and suffering.

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
(John 5:20 (NIV))

The sadness of these words means that the Father showed the Son the pain that He feels because of our sin. If our shortcomings cause pain to the Son, then our sins also cause pain to the Father.

Once again, I realize the primary difference that God looks for in each of us. He looks at the heart. If we earnestly seek Him and profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we do honor the Father because we honor His Son. We may stumble and we may falter, but we do not seek to do harm and to live in sin.

Intentions.

God looks at the heart. He knows whether we are striving to do His Will, or whether we are seeking to honor ourselves. It is a matter of free will. It is a matter of priorities. It is a matter of your heart.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to endure?

May 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
(2 Timothy 2:10 (NIV))

Paul was willing to endure anything and everything in order to spread the Gospel. It is his willingness to endure anything that allowed the Gentiles to be extended salvation. It is his willingness to endure everything that he faced that has allowed the spread of the Gospel and the rise of Western civilization. In essence, we owe our very history to the willingness of Paul to endure all for the sake of the Gospel.

One person can make a difference. Through the sin of one, all fell from grace. Through the grace of one, many are redeemed. Through the faith and perseverance of one, history was changed.

Humanity was doomed because of the sins of one. God came to earth, and as Jesus Christ, He redeemed the world. Paul was not the first person. He was not God made man. Paul was simply a man. He was a man who was willing to do whatever it took to achieve the task that he had been given. He was willing to endure all for the sake of the cross. He was put in prison. He was stoned. He was run out of towns. He did not waiver in his task. He knew that God’s Word is true. He was willing to do anything for the truth. He was willing to die for this truth.

Can we claim to be like Paul?

We live very comfortable lives. We close the doors to our homes and live in temperature controlled bubbles. We only venture outside of our bubbles to gather things to bring back into our bubbles. We are not willing to endure anything that draws us outside of our comfort zones that we have established within these “bubbles.”

Is this the way Paul would have lived his life? We have been given the very same good news that Paul was. He was willing to endure anything in order to spread the good news. Are we even willing to look beyond our bubbles to see the need of those around us? Do we see the lost souls in our own lives?

Are we willing to endure it all?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Isn’t that what faith is?

May 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
(Mark 13:28-34 (NIV))

I suppose that you have heard about the group that was saying that the Rapture and the end of the world would occur on May 21, 2011. This group had picked apart God’s Word and put things together in such a way that they felt certain that May 21, 2011 was the day that would see these things come to pass.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
(Mark 13:32 (NIV))

If Jesus did not know when He walked this world, how can a group of people claim that they know something that Jesus did not know? Can the creation think that is possesses knowledge greater than that of the Creator? Can the creation foretell things that are not even known to Jesus, the Son?

As an inquisitive person, I long to know everything that I can. Still, in my inquisitiveness, I have accepted the fact that there are many things beyond my comprehension. One of these things that I have accepted is the fact that I am not God and I do not profess to know how, where and when He is moving. I do recognize the fact that if I see trees moving, then I can conclude that the wind is blowing. I also recognize the fact that if I hear of wars and rumors of wars, and other things foretold of in the Bible, then I can conclude that God’s timeline is constantly moving forward toward His ultimate plan. I do not profess, however, to be able to know the exact date and time details of His plan.

No one does!

Only God the Father knows exactly how things will unfold.

We, as believers, must not be misled into believing false teachings that contradict God’s Word as it has been laid out before us. We must not be misled into believing that man can calculate when God’s plan when unfold. We simply do not have the mental capacity to understand how God can create something out of nothing, how God can know the end from the beginning. We, as a creation, cannot fully comprehend all aspects of how the atoning blood of Jesus can truly redeem us from an eternal separation that we cannot fully understand.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

As for me, I put my faith in God’s Word. I once was told that you must read God’s Word with an open heart and an innocence. Do not try to read more into it, or seek meanings that are not obvious. God was not trying to trick us by placing hidden meanings into His Word. The Bible is a love letter from God to man. It is a series of writings that tell of God’s love for His creation and how we, as that creation, continue to fall short of what we were created to be. His thoughts may not be our thoughts, for our thoughts are sinful.

Think about this and draw your own conclusions.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

If God went to the trouble of sending His Son to show us the way to Him, why would God hide things from us? If God’s ways and His thoughts are so much greater than ours, do you think that He would trick us? I personally think that when He says that no one knows the date, that we should simply accept this and trust Him.

After all, isn’t that what faith is?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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